You have a great idea to share, and you want to start building a product to solve a big problem. Right on! Before you jump in and pour a lot of resources into making it happen – make sure you take a really important step: validate your idea first.
Validating an idea is essentially testing your idea on as many people as possible and making sure that they are really interested in it, which will save you a lot of time and money.
If you’ve been thinking about creating a really cool product, here are the 4 best ways to validate your idea, and the pros and cons of each approach:
1. Find similar products (Difficulty Level: Easy)
A lot of aspiring campaigners get discouraged because they think that if they discover a product that’s too similar to theirs, it means that they should close up shop and not try it. But it’s just the opposite! Someone who has created a similar idea has validated the market for you — proving that your idea is viable and then there are people out there who find it valuable.
How to Do It
You can search for similar products on Amazon, Google, and even on Indiegogo. You might also be wondering: What makes a product similar to mine? We’re glad you asked! You should make sure:
- The product solves a similar problem as your idea
- It has a similar target audience (If it doesn’t have a similar target audience, you can always do some more research to validate the audience that your product is targeting)
- It has at least some of the features that you are considering for your product
And you should definitely make sure that the product did well on the market! If it didn’t do well, then that could be a sign that you need to change your idea or do some more work in validating.
- Your market is already pre-validated for you
- It’s a quick and easy way to test an idea
- You can look at reviews and feedback for areas of improvement
- You might discover features that you haven’t thought of for your own product
- This will give you more of an overview instead of a thorough validation
- You might not get the full picture about why their product was successful
- It can be hard to tell how big a competitor’s market or audience is without hard data
- If you want to target a different audience, you still have to go through your own validation process
2. Get Feedback (Difficulty Level: Easy)
One of the best ways to validate a potential product idea is to get as much feedback as you can as quickly as possible.
How to Do It:
- Ask. If you want to get feedback from people, just ask! Your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances will always give you quick thoughts on an idea that you have and what they think of it. You can use this feedback to see if you spot any patterns for potential areas of improvement for your idea. The quickest and easiest way is to create a survey with a tool like Google Forms, Survey Monkey, Wufoo, Typeform or Question Pro.
Make sure to:
- Ask the right people. This may seem simple, but it’s really important. You want to have a few questions in your survey to make sure that the person taking it is actually in your target audience.
- Find a target audience: If you don’t have enough people who are in your true target audience, no worries! There are paid services like Google Customer Surveys or Survata that help you create and distribute surveys to people in your defined target audience on your behalf for a small fee.
- Gauge their honest interest. You’ll want to tell people to be completely honest about whether or not they like your product and if they would have any honest intention of actually buying it. You don’t want to spend time building a product that people aren’t interested in!
3. Build a Landing Page (Difficulty Level: Easy-Medium)
Another great way to get feedback is by building a list through a landing page. You can feature your product on a “coming soon” page and then drive traffic to the page in order to collect people’s email addresses. After you collect their emails, you can send them surveys and product reviews to get their feedback.
How to Do It
These days there are plenty of sites and services to create a landing page or simple website. You can use WordPress, Mailchimp – or even use a specific landing page creator site like Unbounce or Strikingly. Indiegogo also offers a Coming Soon BETA page that allows you to spread the word about your idea, get people excited about your upcoming campaign launch and loop in all your new followers to your plans.
- Quick to set up
- A great way to get honest thoughts from both friends and strangers
- A great way to collect emails and start building an early potential support base
- Sometimes difficult to gauge true buying intent
- You might think that certain people are in your target market when they actually are not
- Crowdfunding (Difficulty Level: Medium-Hard)
We can’t talk about validating an idea without talking about crowdfunding! Plus, nothing will validate an idea like people actually signing up to purchase the product. Crowdfunding is a great way to validate an idea because you can take your potential customer through a journey of:
- Learning about your product
- Offering their feedback about perks and features they would like to see
- Having them agree to back the project before the campaign launches (similar to a pre-sale)
- Contributing to your campaign
And you can use the result of the campaign to gauge how interested your audience is in the current version of your product.
If you want a full guide to crowdfunding, make sure to check out our Essential Guide to Crowdfunding to take you through the whole process from idea to launch.
- Allows you to validate an idea with paying backers
- Provides you real feedback – around messaging, features, and more
- Grows your email list of potential customers
- Opens up new opportunities for partnerships and investment
- Let’s you build buzz via social and traditional media
- Allows you to fund improvements with stretch goals
- Need to understand what makes a great campaign
- Takes time to plan and execute the right strategy
- Need to dedicate at least 30 days to keep momentum through the process
Have an Idea?
Now that you know how to validate a product, you can go out there and test your idea with the world.
We can’t wait to see what you’ll create!